One of the biggest and most divisive names on the British art scene is back with a vengeance. Transience is Michael Craig-Martin's first London solo show in nearly three decades - and it's a delight to behold.
Transience considers Craig-Martin's in relation to his obsession with technological innovation - and then obsolescence; hence the exhibition's title. Nintendo consoles; laptops, palm-pilots, black and white television sets, 1980s hotel safes, outmoded Nokia handsets: the artist's work has long been concerned with familiar but outdated relics of technology. "We often look," the artist has said, "for the special in special objects or special events but actually, if we understood the quality of ordinary things, we are closer to the substance of life."
Recalling the accessible Pop Art of Andy Warhol, Peter Blake and Patrick Caulfield, these forms are painted in clashing neon-brights. They are incredibly satisfying to look at; the calmness and simplicity of their execution enlivened by the boldness of their palette.
For years one of the landmark names on the British art scene, Craig-Martin's work as a tutor at Goldsmith's saw him mentor Ian Davenport, Damien Hirst, Michael Landy, Sarah Lucas and Julian Opie, among a host of others. He's widely considered co-responsible for the rise of the YBA generation in the 1990s, and these days he’s a Royal Academician.
Craig-Martin has always been interested in form. His 1973 breakthrough piece An Oak Tree was a glass of water, next to a note, which explains in a semiotic argument that the object was actually an oak tree. The concept was lost on some, however: Australian Customs barred the piece from entering the country because it was foreign vegetation. Craig-Martin had to explain that it was, actually, a glass of water.
Prominent though he is, the artist is not without his critics. "Craig-Martin maintains that art can be found anywhere and made of anything," professed the late Brian Sewell, " in my view, as an artist he deserves only derision." Hilton Kranner sniffed "Craig-Martin maintains that the 30 years since Andy Warhol is one of the greatest periods in the history of art. If you believe that you'll believe anything."
|What||Michael Craig-Martin, Serpentine Gallery Review|
|Where||Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Knightsbridge (underground)|
25 Nov 15 – 14 Feb 16, Closed from 24-26 December and from 31 December 2015 to 1 January 2016
|Website||Click here for more information|